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Bonobo Hones A Nomadic Writing Method On ‘Migration’

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Photo: Bonobo press image

The life of a touring musician can be grueling. A different city almost every night. Countless hours in vans, airports and hotel rooms. All while separated from home and family -- for months at a time.

But producer Simon Green, who performs as Bonobo, finds inspiration in life on the road.

His latest album's called “Migration.” He says the album came about when he decided to live entirely on the road, with no home address.

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"I realized that I had such a heavy touring schedule that there was no point actually having a base," he says. "So I didn't live anywhere. This rootlessness, that’s where this record was conceived."

Green has made electronic music as Bonobo for more than 15 years. He spoke with us backstage at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. He says that’s the type of place where the album came together.

"A lot of these ideas were hatched working on a laptop in the kind of environments we’re in now," he says. "A green room or a hotel room or a tour bus or an airport lounge."

The effort behind songs like “Break Apart” demonstrate Green’s nomadic composition style. He teamed up with Canadian group Rhye. They recorded the song in four different countries.

"I started on a flight from Miami," he says. "Rhye at the time was on tour in Europe, so he recorded the first verse in a hotel room in Amsterdam. The second verse the following day in Berlin. And we recorded the horns somewhere in the U.K. And then we came together at the end in my studio in L.A."

The album features sounds from all over the world. There’s the sound of a broken escalator in a Hong Kong airport. A tumble dryer in the green room of the House of Blues in Boston. And another that captures the loneliness of a person living abroad.

"I got to L.A. and it was Fourth of July. As a British person, you never feel more alone in America than on an American holiday.

"I was at home. My Instagram feed was people doing backflips into swimming pools and Solo cups. I was working in the studio and recorded all the fireworks on Fourth of July and slowed them down. And put them on the end of this track, which is one of the more poignant parts on the record."

Green says moments like that are emblematic of a life on the road. There are lots of ups and downs of moving away, and staying away, from home.

But he says he can’t have it any other way as he continues making music.

"Even though it's not as comfortable as a rested studio environment," he says. "The energy of being out in the world, that needs to happen in order to harvest inspiration."

That lack of comfort might lead to the end of some music careers. It’s become a necessity for Bonobo. And “Migration” suits him well.

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